By on January 3, 2018

2018 MINI Cooper Hardtop 2-door

The rebooted Mini brand was launched nearly 20 years ago, an alarming reminder of the relentless march of time and my own rapidly disappearing hairline. Since its introduction, when it competed for customer cash during the retro boom, the brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to plug-in hybrids and the oddly lumpy Clubman.

Far from its humble roots, it is now possible to spend north of $50,000 on a Mini in 2018. How does the base model stack up at less than half that price? Let’s find out.

Starting at $21,600 sans destination fees, the least costly Cooper is available in any color you want … as long as it’s Moonwalk Grey. Every other color – from Electric Blue to British Racing Green – will cost an extra $500 at minimum. Still, a trio of exterior trims are available for $0.

2018 MINI Cooper Hardtop 2-door

Under the retro hood is a boosted 1.5-liter inline-three whose turbocharging and direct injection are good for 134 horsepower at a reasonable 4,400 rpm. Even more appealing for around-town drivers, all 162 lb-ft of torque from the three angry squirrels comes online at a barely-off-idle 1,250 rpm. Equipped with a six-speed manual, the Hardtop should make 60 mph from a standstill in about 7.5 seconds. A tidy 98.2-inch wheelbase and quick-ratio electric steering means the Cooper darts around like hyperactive cats on a hot tin roof.

Occupants of the Cooper won’t be hot, as air conditioning is standard equipment on the cheapest of Minis, even seeing fit to vent some of its cold air into the glovebox to create a quasi-cooler for drinks. Luxuries like one-touch power windows, heated mirrors, and automatic headlamps are all on tap. Bluetooth infotainment and handy USB charging are along for the ride, too

2018 MINI Cooper Hardtop 2-door

A snazzy start/stop button awaits the itchy trigger finger of its driver, along with a backup camera and a raft of airbags. In another good turn for new drivers, every new Mini comes standard with a comprehensive maintenance program, covering scheduled service stops for the first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Given that much of America currently resembles the planet Hoth, it’s worth noting Mini gives customers the option of selecting all-season tires for $0 in place of the standard performance-oriented hoops. They’re 15 inches in diameter, by the way, keeping future replacement costs from climbing into the upper stratosphere.

So a true Ace of Base, then? Not quite. I’d spring for the $100 white turn signal kit, which swaps the standard amber turn signals for a clear set, removing the stock units which resemble infected tear ducts. Still, considering the level of standard equipment and the dose of unique style it provides, one can certainly think of worse cars on which to spend $21,600.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

[Images: BMW Group]

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40 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I like to play with the Mini build & price simulator, you can put together some pretty cool rides. You can also add about $10-15K to the price of the car doing it. You can do worse than the base Mini for the price though, you just have to be disciplined.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The turbo 3 makes the base model Mini much more compelling than the old standard non-turbo 4, but they really are forcing everyone but the color blind to kick in extra bucks for a nicer color than that ugly grey. Since Mini sales are somewhat down, perhaps they might be knock a few bucks off the sticker to pay for the paint and a few extra goodies.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    In the real purchase price world, can’t you get a GTI for about the same price?

    If so, I’ll have to give the Mini a failing grade on the Ace of Base test.

    I’ve played around with the configurator for the Clubman, since it’s the smallest “wagon” I could get away with, and STICKSHIFT! But I’d kill for a GTI Sportwagen.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      GTI Sportwagen is MUCH longer than the Clubman, which, believe it or not, is the same length as a standard Golf.

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        “GTI Sportwagen” — what is this sorcery of which you speak? We’ve long been dreaming of such a thing, but unless I slept through it, I don’t think such a car exists.

      • 0 avatar
        lencap

        The Sportwagen is a Golf, not a GTI, and comes standard with a 1.7 liter turbo putting out 170 HP. The newest version is standard with a 6 speed manual. My version, the 2017, is bone stock with a 5 speed manual. It has a lot of standard features, including Bluetook and Apple Car Play. My iPhone hooks up easily and displays maps on the standard 8″ display. A very fun toy – and it’s less expensive than the Mini! I don’t know another car that is as versatile, fun to drive, and economical as the Sportwagen. Highly recommended.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The GTI may cost less with some options, but has really been hampered in the US by being limited to just a few trim levels with no meaningful options. You can customize a Mini in a million different ways.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Love the looks of the whole Mini line. And that’s where the love stops. For the same price of this base model we purchased a 2017 Civic EX-T sedan with manual transmission. More power, lots of room, better fuel economy and likely much cheaper to own. It’s not nearly as pretty as the mini though. The British racing green with union jack on the roof is my favorite.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Yes, as much as I am not a Honda fan (the road noise drives me crazy) you have made the correct decision.

      My wife really wants a Countryman and I can’t bring myself to get one for her. Too many horror stories on the cost of ownership and the ones that I test drove with turbo and MT were not all that quick. The Countryman is a heavy car and not powerful enough to be considered a performance machine in ‘S’ trim.

      I did enjoy my Accord coupe MT for the time that I had it and it provided me with no issues, it was 8 and 9 years old during my ownership period so I would be shocked if you have any issues of note with your Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        These days, MINI ranks higher than Honda for reliability, in just about every recent ranking I’ve seen. Believe it, or not, but it’s true!

        • 0 avatar
          CincyDavid

          Wouldn’t surprise me…our ’14 Accord got yet another recall notice…this is the 2nd one for a battery cable that is defective and can lead to an electrical fire. The original fix apparently didn’t work so that became the “temporary” repair and they are trying it again, this time with a notice written in red ink with huge letters asking that we call within 5 days. Doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. It should have been a sign when the thumping noise in the front end turned out to be front strut bolts that weren’t tightened at the factory. No more Hondas for us…

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Yeah, but you also get a cheap interior, a piece-of-crap, laggy infotainment system, an awkward cargo area (because it’s more of a notchback style), flimsy switches, and you also get to look like everyone else on the road, because you have the same car as every 10th car.

      • 0 avatar
        kcflyer

        interior is too dark but otherwise not bad. Infotainment works just great. Trunk will hold 4 people’s stuff for a long weekend or an overloaded walmart cart full of groceries easily. Won’t argue about it being a popular car. The manual transmission appears far less than one out of 10 in my parking lot surveys, especially in the Turbo car’s. Good to hear MINI is getting good quality reviews. Like I said, I like their looks

    • 0 avatar
      jay czyzyk

      It no where near in performance in the handling deprtmnt compared to the mini

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m not sure how you get $21,600 here, Matthew – I just configured one with absolutely zero options, and got $22,950, including D&H, and a mandatory $500 charge for ANY paint color other than gray.

    That’s twenty-three grand for a tiny car with a three banger. Needless to say, there’s an entire range of far better choices out there for that kind of money.

    Nope.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You could probably get a Toyota dealer to deal a 4 cyl Camry down that low or lower.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        P D
        But then you would have a Camry.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I’m just saying it is silly expensive for what it is – especially if you dare to add any options.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I wouldn’t want a Camry, but I can think of a rather large list of compacts that are all dramatically easier to live with, and have a performance envelope similar to the base Mini’s, for around $16-18,000 these days.

          One’s in my parking slot right now.

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          Agreed hpycamper, there is something to be said for having a fun to drive vehicle, and a 4 cylinder Camry is not fun to drive. A base Mini is fun to drive, and the Mini has a personality. And a manual transmission.

          Great write up Matthew, keep them coming!

    • 0 avatar
      Wizerud

      Presumably the price came right off of Mini’s website:

      http://www.miniusa.com/content/miniusa/en/model/special-editions/oxford-edition.html

      Might only have a three-cylinder engine but 0.60 in 7.5s for those who live in a world where that number is everything is not too shabby.

      And that Oxford Edition at $19.8k is a pretty great deal if you’re a student!

  • avatar
    ronhawk62

    I bought 2015 as a third car, it makes a great toy, not a practical family vehicle. I drive the hell out of it, its very peppy and has a great transmission and I still average 35mpg. My wife’s Ecoboost Mustang feels like a boat in comparison.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The convertible version is more compelling IMO.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    First off it’s “MINI” not Mini. Mini is they term used for the generations before 2001.

    I owned a 2002 and a 2004 MINI S. The 2002 was a POC but the 2004 was a great car which I owned until 2012 when I bought my 1st Fiat an Abarth. I thought I’d own a MINI for the rest of my life but after 2007 I was not liking the design and now with the “Guppy” front end, UGH. I did look at a Countryman back in 2013 but when I priced it out $42k was stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      nlinesk8s

      So you missed the whole POC 2nd generation of MINI (there ya’ go).

      After about ten years BMW finally realized everyone thought the MINI’s an overpriced POC, and in 2014 introduced some reliability improvements. I’d be interested the reliability story from anyone who owns a newer car.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        ZERO issues on my 2014 F56. NOT ONE! Bought a 2018 F60 Countryman S All4 MT. How’s that for a vote of confidence?

      • 0 avatar
        oleladycarnut

        I custom ordered a 2016 MINI Cooper S. A year and a half later, with 15,000 miles, I have not had one issue with the car. I’ve owned over 20 cars in my 62 years, and this is by far the most fun car I’ve ever had. I’ve had a 2005, a 2007 and a 2011. BMW worked out the issues, IMHO, with the F56. Since I don’t haul passengers, the two door hatch is perfect for my needs. The back, with the seats down, is a cave and I can pile all I need into it for long road trips. Grocery getting is no issue. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another British Racing Green configured like her in the US, and reliability reports from the forums, CR and TrueDelta give me confidence I’ll be keeping this car forever.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    We purchased a new car in September. Since I am the proud owner of a nicely restored little 1968 Mini Traveler, it looked a logical place to start. I couldn’t believe the pricing on the car – the entry price was not too bad but by the time you actually had a drivable one, it soared way way past $50KCDN (40KUSD). Registration, licensing and taxes and you were $60K (50KUSD) out the door. There are much better cars selling at that price that do not rely on retro-nostalgia to get them out the door. Cute car, enjoyed my test drive(s) but there was too little value for too much price. And then there are all the reliability studies on line, too .. had to take a walk. My Mini sits alone.

  • avatar
    vlangs

    I wanted a hot hatch to daily in to keep miles off my (then) 03 RS6 (now 17 S90T6) and I compared the Abarth, Cooper S, and Fiesta ST.

    You don’t get the posh badge, but dollar for dollar the Fiesta ST was just a much better car if you don’t mind the economy car plastics (I love lux, but that didn’t bother me at all).

    I loved the exhaust note on the Abarth, but hated the interior, loved the slightly more upmarket interior of the Cooper S but hated the way the engine pulled. The FiST has more features, similar performance, and I’d say is a rarer car. Looks are subjective, but I loved it.

    Oh and I didn’t have to go ace of base because Ford dealers in big cities where they actually get these things offer wonderful discounts. I got a left over Shadow Black 16 with the black wheels, navi, sunroof, leather, and some Ford Performance goodies for just under 18k.

    • 0 avatar
      windnsea00

      Agreed, I have a 997 but wanted a fun/inexpensive DD and the Fiesta ST has them all beat, I mean it’s way more fun to drive than a base Mini and faster. Picked up a 2017 model 2 weeks ago with no options for $17.9k (not including TTL). Bang for the buck it knocks everyone out of the park.

  • avatar
    bubbajet

    Three words: Requires Premium Fuel.

    I enjoyed test driving the MINI. But for similar money I can get a well-equipped Accord that’ll be better equipped, not have a horrid transmission, and burn regular unleaded while getting better gas mileage and close enough performance to not matter.

    Eh. Buy what you like. If I had some extra dough, it’d be fun to have a MINI.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I loved the original S that I had driven. The zippy nature and the burbling on deceleration. Car was a blast, but price and reliability concerns kept me from pulling the trigger.

    I don’t know about these new ones, I don’t have a MINI dealer near me anyway, but if they still have that beat-the-snot-outta-me-please feel, I could see this being a solid selection for Ace of Base.

    Something about those cars in a Miata-type way but somehow seemed to be even more fun despite FWD and all that jazz.

  • avatar

    Everything else in this segment outperforms the car with a lower price. This car exists so affluent white suburbanites have something to give to their 16 year old daughters.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Racist much?

      I’m sure you just insulted the bulk of Europe as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Considering there’s 3-4 MINIs of various age in my condo garage, I’d say they’re also relatively popular with urbanites who want a small car, but don’t want to look like they want a small car for the sake of being cheap. Not much else out there fits that bill.

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